Have you wondered what the distinct traits of Animal Reiki are and what exactly is the need for specialization? Is Animal Reiki different from traditional Reiki? The elementary answer is that Animal Reiki is also Reiki. The universal energy is the same – there is simply one universal energy. And at the same time, Animal Reiki is about the animals and is practiced honouring the unique sensitivities of the animal kingdom.
Animal Reiki Cats
Reiki is a Japanese healing energy system founded by Mikao Usui in the early 20th century. It uses Ki, the natural life force energy, which flows inside us and around us to offer healing for the higher good of all. Traditionally there are 3 levels of Reiki training, and it can be used with both humans and animals. Human Reiki often focuses on hand positions and moving around the human client who is seated or lying down. This may not always be relevant when working with animals however as they don’t always want or are available for a direct connection. This is where The Let Animals Lead® Method of Animal Reiki comes in.
The following story inspired me to extend my Reiki training and become an Animal Reiki practitioner. The story highlights how Kathleen Prasad’s Let Animals Lead® Method nurtures the agency and autonomy of the “neighborhood cat,” particularly in the heart of the 6th Pillar. Here’s the scoop from Snoop.
Despite the rain and the chill one late April morning, my husband and I headed over to our city zoo so I could meditate with the animals for the first time using the Let Animals Lead® Method of Animal Reiki. What’s a little rain? I’m a newbie to LAL and eager to develop my skills.
Adopting a shelter pet is an exciting and fulfilling experience. Not only will you be helping an animal in need of a loving home, you’ll be gaining a new family member. However, it’s important to pet-proof your home, get their space set up with the essentials, and do a little research before bringing home a rescue pet.
Hermione is a premature fawn left by her mother. Mulan was a sickly, newborn kitten dumped at the animal shelter. Both are being loved and rehabbed at Forevermore Farm, a peaceful, quaint little farm where I teach Reiki & Kathleen Prasad’s Let Animals Lead® method of Animal Reiki.
SARA Practitioner Deanna Sava shares a little background on the video:
“I don’t remember Stuart’s whole story, but he came into The Buddy Foundation with socialization issues. He was feral or semi-feral. Volunteers have been spending a lot of time trying to socialize him and they discovered that he loves to be brushed. He was okay when other cats came up to his cage–even when his cage door was open so he could roam around the large cat area if he wanted to. However, he only tentatively came out after most of the volunteers left and it became really quiet. He recently started to come out of his cage when the volunteers were around, but as soon as anyone walked toward or past his cage, he would run back into it.
Gabi, a SARA Practitioner, introduces her teaching memoir: How Animal Reiki Found Me and Other Stories, by Gabriele Annegret.
In her book Gabi shares her journey of awakening through encounters of animals as spirits, message carriers, and healers … Animal Reiki found her!
When we are peaceful, we can let go of the need to control.
As my county in Pennsylvania began to relax the Shelter In Place orders from COVID-19, we moved into the yellow phase. However, pet groomers are still not allowed to open. It has been several months since I was able to get my two cats groomed. One is part Persian and one is part Angora. I do the best that I can with brushing but they are both timid and anxious rescues. I am not embarrassed to say that my skills are lacking and I appreciate my groomers even more. My attempts to care for my cats have left me with cuts from their claws and teeth as they let me know when they have had enough of my tugging on them with a brush. As expected, my one cat Lulu developed a large mat on her back. This added to my stress over caring for them knowing that it would still be many weeks or months before I can have a grooming appointment. I decided to try reiki.
When i entered the cat room during one of my recent visits at the Restigouche SPCA, i noticed a new face, a good looking boy, orange & white in color and he was immediately interested at the presence I brought to the room. As I walked by his space I put my hand against the bars and introduced myself. I explained I was there to offer Reiki, and that Reiki simply was sharing good vibes that can bring peace & calm and helps us feel good.
But that’s not Reiki! A colleague recently mentioned someone said this about the Let Animals Lead® method of Animal Reiki by Kathleen Prasad that we practice. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but the conversation has nagged me since.
Reiki pronounced as ‘ray key’ is a complementary holistic therapy which can be used alongside conventional veterinary medicine. Reiki is an ancient Japanese system of healing, not cure. Rei meaning ‘spirit’ and Ki meaning ‘energy’. As quantum physics tells us, all matter is energy. This energy flows through all living beings.
Scotty was a 7 year old long haired tabby. When he was five, his owner surrendered him to the SPCA. The reason given was her roommate had adopted a dog. His surrender papers explicitly stated that he was afraid of children.
I recently worked with a shelter cat named “Bebe”. Bebe was rescued from a situation where he was living mostly outside of a basement apartment, entering through a well-window for food on occasion. It was unclear if the apartment tenant felt connected to Bebe but did seem to be feeding him. At some point the tenancy fell apart and Bebe encountered some sort of violent exchange while outside. He was chewed up and terrified when trapped and brought to our shelter.
This particular shelter is a No-kill, cat only shelter. It serves as a sort of cat hospice for elderly cats and is a place where cats are processed to barns, homes, and other situations as appropriate. I had worked with several cats that arrived untouchable and arguably unadoptable who, through Reiki and patience, began to unwind from traumas and found welcoming and sensitive humans to share their lives. With Bebe, I was not sure it was better for him to be alive and in our care. I know this is a radical statement but it speaks only of the severity of the distress this cat was experiencing and my estimation of the quality of his life. He was withdrawn in the extreme, crouched (not curled) in a corner of a crate in a room by himself where he could have wandered and explored but chose not to. He emitted something worse than a growl, a low, pitiful moan whenever I sat with him and I did for hours and hours over more than two months. My desire for release for him became seriously disruptive to my reiki offering.
While I knew, intellectually, that I could not bring my hopes for specific positive outcomes into the intentions of the reiki practice, it was easier “known” than lived. I found that I felt an increasingly desperate plea in my meditation and I could see it as not right. But, I found it hard to resist the overlay of such intentions given the profound suffering I saw. Isn’t it natural to hope for “release” from suffering? Isn’t that consistent with wanting to create space for healing? In the midst of this crisis I wrote this note to Leah.
“There is a cat, picked up wandering and wailing, badly beaten and inconsolable. This is an orange cat, a male with ears that are badly maimed and a gash on his face healing very slowly. This cat is in the worst condition I have seen in all my time in this shelter, not physically, but spiritually. For several weeks I have been sitting in his room, always at least a yard away, and meditating. I use the precepts and the Choku Rei and Sei Heki. I draw the symbols in my hand and meditate on the meanings. I chant and I use Dai Ko Myo. I focus wholly on my own peace and calmness. It is truly all I can offer this creature who emanates fear and despair. Occasionally as I draw the symbols in the air or in my hand, the cat growls, a low guttural noise that is the most agonizing I have ever heard from a cat. Nothing changes for this cat. In my three weeks now of sitting with him several times a week, I observe no change. This week I had the strong, strong sense that he wanted to leave, to die, to be freed. I wondered if I may have received the message because I created a space where it could be heard. I have not shared this with others at the shelter or in classes and am anxious to hear what you might feel in my telling this story. He is in an agony of spirit I have not sat with before. He is not going to die physically. He is lonely and unapproachable. Certainly this could change, I believe in the power of energetic healing but what is humane if he remains so disturbed? He is not hurting people and is being kept isolated from other cats. I can only continue to sit with him and focus inward but the message was clear and in its way, desperate. Hard to not want things to be better, healed, light filled for him. But, this is not about wanting….”
In response Leah (Leah DiAmbrosio, VP SARA) wrote to me: “When we are offering Reiki, it’s important to be open and remember there is no giving and receiving there is just a beautiful connection of your light to the other person’s or animal’s. If you become attached to the idea you are giving a gift with your Reiki then you are disappointed when the gift is rejected. In this beautiful space we are creating of connection, there is no giving and receiving – just oneness. When we attach ourselves to an outcome that creates a wanting and a wanting creates a need to hang onto an outcome and in that space of hanging on, nothing can move. Letting go is freedom and in that space of openness, anything can happen.”
“When we attach ourselves to an outcome that creates a wanting and a wanting creates a need to hang onto an outcome…”
As so happens with our Reiki teachers, human and animal, we receive what we need when we can use it. Leah’s caution to me about “wanting”, fit perfectly with my sense that my desire for Bebe was interfering with my creation of the space. After all, many of us are drawn to this work with animals by a strong and sincere ethic about animal welfare, freedom from suffering and freedom from cruelty. It is not surprising that I would get distracted by extreme suffering of Bebe’s sort.
Two weeks ago, two and a half months after I met Bebe and began regular reiki offerings, Bebe came out of his crate to eat tuna from my hand, roll on his back and present his belly in a demonstration of trust! I was shocked and moved to tears. Secretly I had given up on Bebe and become a silent advocate for his “release”! Gratefully, I do not control the energy! Bebe was healing, in his own way, in his own time. Hard to describe how dramatic this was. He didn’t inch his way over to me, he didn’t allow me closer or stop growling. There was a hard change and he simply moved from despair to hope with an invisible process. He was loving and engaged and catlike! He was no longer afflicted by fear. So very beautiful, such a teacher.
The next week Bebe “adopted” another very frightened kitten who he curled with and protected. Who he taught to eat tuna and tolerate people and the next week the two were adopted together by a person who appreciated their history and had patience for their future.
I think I am finally over the habit of limiting the power of reiki by imposing my own desires and decisions about needed outcomes! If I forget, I have Bebe’s teaching and Leah’s careful reminder to pull me back.
I’ve been taking pictures for as long as I can remember. At some point during my childhood, I assumed the role of family photographer — beginning with Brownie Instamatic and Polaroid cameras. I mainly took pictures of my family growing up, but in adulthood I branched out to street life, landscape, wildlife, and other subjects.
Later in adulthood I joined a strict nature photography club. That’s when I realized my passion was in nature photography. The photo club had monthly competitions, and I got caught up in that. When I took photos, I was focused on trying to capture award-winning images and maintained that attitude long after I left the photography club. In fact, I maintained this focus until I encountered The Heron.
I recently sold my year-old camera equipment on ebay (my fourth or fifth camera system that I sold on ebay over the years), to purchase a Sony DSC-RX10 III because of its longer focal length (which allowed me to zoom in closer for wildlife photography). I was getting used to and practicing with this camera when I encountered The Heron. He was in the water close to the pier in a nature preserve – the closest I had ever been to a heron. I actually captured some beautiful images of him. In fact, one of the images was a potential award-winning shot.
My typical routine is to back up the photos from the camera’s sd (memory) card onto an external hard drive, then delete the photos from the sd card while it’s in the computer. With the Sony, I noticed that when I put the card back in the camera I received a weird error message about some images not being able to be displayed. I thought the only way to delete that error message was to reformat the card while it was in the camera. While I was working on this project, I also was backing up photos from other sources. In other words, I was doing too many things at the same time rather than fully focusing on this project. It was also late at night and I was getting tired. Consequently, thinking I had backed up these images onto the external hard drive since that was my typical routine, I deleted the photos from the sd card and reformatted the card in the camera.
The next day when I went to email my favorite heron image to my sister, I discovered it wasn’t there. I searched on my computer’s C: drive, on the sd card, and on the external hard drive and, much to my dismay, I could not find any of those photos. I spent hours searching the Internet and downloading programs so I could recover the photos, to no avail. Why I didn’t double check to see that the photos were backed up before I deleted the images from the card (again, something I would normally do), I’ll never know. I also learned later that I could have recovered the photos had I not reformatted the card. To top it off, I’m leery about using cloud-based applications, which is unfortunate as I would have been able to recover the photos this way. Note – if you do a quick reformat with the card in the computer, you might still be able to recover the photos, but definitely not if you reformat the card while it’s in the camera. But this is still not the Lesson of the Heron.
I usually don’t become emotional about anything in life, but I was actually emotional when I finally resigned myself to the fact that I had deleted those images for good. After trying to calm myself with Reiki and meditation, I realized that I had been too attached to those photos (ego) – and this was The Lesson.
Ever since this experience, I have become much more humble when I take photographs. Rather than trying to ‘capture’ or ‘captivate’ nature with my camera, I approach my photography the same way approach the animals when I offer Animal Reiki: I am open and have no expectations about which animals or other nature subjects will present themselves to me. When a bird, insect, flower, animal, etc. appears, I ask permission to photograph them (if they remain in one place long enough for me to photograph them, I feel they are allowing me to photograph them, which is a way of allowing the animals to take charge). If I’m hoping for a certain subject to appear, rather than being disappointed because I did not encounter this animal, I am really grateful for any creature who presented him/herself to me and for all that I experienced that day, and I express my gratitude to the animal, bird, insect, flower….
Reiki has become a way of life in many aspects, and now the Animal Reiki ethics have merged into my photography. Letting go of the ego is never easy, but it’s part of the path to reconnecting with the Great Bright Light that is within us and surrounds us all. In an effort to enhance the connection with the Oneness of all and create a ‘Reiki space’, I now softly chant some of the Reiki mantras when I am out in nature. I am so grateful that I encountered The Heron that day and for all that he has taught me. Thankfully, I went back to the preserve a couple of days later and – lo and behold – The Heron was there to connect with me.
Deanna Iris Sava
I love meditating with animals! I say this with great joy and enthusiasm because in the past, I had a teacher who told her students that animals will draw energy away from you and disrupt your mediation if they are in the same room. Well, this teacher also says that we should take what resonates and leave the rest behind. I choose to leave far behind her limiting belief about meditating with animals!
I have practiced meditation my entire life. As a child, I didn’t know that I was meditating. I was simply going to a quiet place to withdraw deep inside myself to avoid a crowded and chaotic household. We weren’t permitted pets, except for fish and the occasional hamster so my favorite place to retreat in mind and body was the small greenhouse that my father had built to grow orchids. In this beautiful space, the only animals were insects. Oh and Charlie, a clam my mother had brought back from Lake Erie and kept in a bucket. It was never clear what Charlie ate, but he grew bigger over time. I felt bad for Charlie, stuck in that small home that wasn’t home. But I was a kid and I didn’t pay much attention to Charlie or the insects. They weren’t warm and fuzzy and I couldn’t hold one close at night to help me sleep.
Fast forward a few decades. I now live on a small piece of property with four horses, six dogs, and ten cats. All of the dogs and cats were strays or rescues who chose to share their lives with my husband and me. We are fortunate to back up to a national park and over 100 acres of conserved woods, with a running stream and a pond that serves as a watering hole for wildlife and a swimming pool for the horses and Kensi, a border collie.
I love to sit by the pond for meditation, and am usually accompanied by Kensi. She will take a dip, shower me with pond water, and settle down in the grass. Kensi’s presence is comforting and relaxing and it is easier to fall deeper into meditation feeling her energy merging with mine. On a recent afternoon, practicing a homework assignment for Leah’s Animal Reiki for Reiki Practitioner’s class, I began a meditation by the pond, starting with the Joshin Kokyu and adding the Three Diamonds meditation. The Three Diamonds meditation brings so much peace. It becomes a beautiful moving meditation in which I easily lose myself.
Prior to beginning the meditation session, I spent time observing the surroundings. A large turtle lounged sunbathing on a log that extends out into, but above, the water. I set an intention to invite Turtle to join me. I began with Gassho, giving thanks for the day, the spring that feeds the pond, the dragonflies and other wildlife that share this space with me. I then practiced Joshin Kokyu Ho for some time, noticing that our barn cat, Lady, and Kensi had chosen to join me, lying a few yards away in the grass within the space created by my practice. Floating on Lady’s rythmic purr it was easy to fall deeper into meditation and gently transitioned to Three Diamonds. I felt the world dropping away, and yet was more acutely aware of the subtle sounds of dragonfly wings, a breeze blowing through the trees, the splash of a fish jumping. I found my breath syncing to the movements of my hands and felt myself moving even deeper inward.
I became aware of a gentle, patient and wise presence. Turtle had joined me with a message. He said, I am one with the earth. I am one with the water. I am one with the air. I am in these elements and these elements are in me. I am in balance.
I felt another presence, light and fluttering. Dragonfly said, I am one with the sky, I am one with the air, I am one with the water reeds. I am in balance.
Stillness overcame my mind and body and I sat, absorbing the messages and feeling so grateful for Turtle and Dragonfly. Slowly I returned to present, feeling the sentience of the beings around me. I don’t know how long I sat, deep inside myself but at the same time open and part of the world around me. Returning gently to awareness, filled with peace, I gave thanks to Turtle, Dragonfly, Kensi and Lady.
I was in balance.
I have been a volunteer at The Buddy Foundation in Arlington Heights, IL since April 24, 2016. By this time, I completed 3 levels of human Reiki classes from January to March 2016. I had not yet taken the Level IV human Reiki class, Kathleen Prasad’s Animal Reiki Workshop Core Curriculum Correspondence class, or the three levels of Kathleen Prasad’s Animal Reiki classes (I – Shoden, II – Okuden, and III – Shinpiden). In other words, I was a fairly new Reiki practitioner but I felt a special affinity toward animals.
I am the first Reiki practitioner at The Buddy Foundation. With my volunteer experience and continued training in animal Reiki classes, I feel a strong connection with Kathleen’s traditional Japanese Reiki meditation techniques, including chanting. Not only does chanting help me become and remain centered, calm and focused, but the animals seem to really respond to the vibrations of the tones. Here are some stories related to my chanting with the cats and dogs at The Buddy Foundation:
I began my meditation with Gassho to center my mind and set my intention to offer Reiki to Ranger, a young dog at The Buddy Foundation who had surgery on his left front and right rear legs. At the time of this story, his front leg was still bandaged; he wore a collar around his neck; and still goes to follow-up doctor and physical therapy sessions a few times a week. Ranger was on his pillow and I sat a few feet away from him on his blanket. After Gassho, I practiced Joshin Kokyu Ho (Hara Breathing). However, I chanted on the outbreaths. Ranger was in his own room but it was next to the dog run, where the dogs’ barking was very loud. Initially, Ranger reacted when the dogs barked. He seemed to respond to the chanting and appeared more relaxed on his pillow. Besides being soothing, I think the chanting may have also served as a point to focus on (focal point) to help block out the barking dogs. After practicing Joshin Kokyu Ho until I felt grounded, focused and connected, then breathed normally for a short time, I sat in the energetic space for a while. I then set my intention to facilitate whatever healing Ranger was open to receiving and invited him into the ‘Reiki space’ I had created and remained on the blanket (later moving near him on his pillow) while I continued chanting softly. Afterwards, I went into Gassho and thanked Ranger for his participation and openness to healing, then set my intention to finish.
The above paragraph described the logistics of my meditation, and now I want to focus more on Ranger’s behavior during the session. When I invited him to share the Reiki space with me, I had the feeling that if he were a cat, he would have purred. After a few minutes into the session, Ranger sighed very deeply. He sighed about 2-3 more times during the session. The dog run is right outside of his room. A couple of times he reacted to the dogs barking in the run by sitting up on his pillow and barking at the door to his room. Once he stood up on both of his hind legs and barked, and once he drank water from his bowl. For the majority of the time, he rested on his pillow, even though the other dogs continued to bark, while I continued to chant. A couple of times he paced around the room, then came right over to me on the blanket – one time sitting right next to me while I petted him, and another time standing next to me but pushing his body right up against mine, while I petted him – softly speaking to him but still holding the Reiki space. At one point he lay on his pillow but turned to face me, indicating that he wanted me to pet him. I went to his pillow and petted his head and body. He then lied down and stretched out on his pillow while I petted him. While I petted his body and laid my hands on his back and sides, his legs jerked intermittently for a few minutes – especially his left front leg that was bandaged. It was as if blocked energy was being released and working itself out of his body. After about 30-40 minutes, Ranger needed to be walked and I ended the session, thanking Ranger for his participation and openness to healing.
The second time I worked with Ranger in his room, he was still set off whenever the dogs barked in the run, so I chanted more loudly. This caused him to focus on my chanting rather than on the dogs’ barking. He was very wild that night. He ripped apart a blanket that a volunteer brought in the room for me to sit on, and when the dogs first started barking he tried to nip at me (he is still wearing a cone on his head to prevent him from biting his surgery wounds). I just told him “No” a couple of times and he stopped trying to nip me. Anyway, I lowered my voice with the chants when the dogs in the run settled down, and chanted louder when they started barking. Toward the end, I placed my hands on my hara (don’t know why I hadn’t thought of that earlier in the session) and chanted for a while, and then I opened my arms out. About 30 seconds after I did that, the dog run went completely silent. By the end of the session, Ranger had totally settled down and was napping on his pillow.
Another more significant story involves a cat named Dancer who is in a cage. He’s a gorgeous gray and white cat. He’s still feral and has hurt a number of volunteers. He loves to play so I usually play with him with a toy on a string. Whenever anyone opens his cage, he dashes through an opening to his other cage. When I play with the toy, I’m at one cage with the door open and I throw the toy through the opening so he can play with the toy from his other cage. One Thursday I opened the cage and, as usual, he dashed to the other cage. Then I started chanting, and he came to the cage that I was standing in front of, but the door was closed. I kept chanting and opened the door a crack. He remained on his cat tracker toy where I was, even with the door cracked open. I kept chanting and very slowly opened the door wider and wider, and he remained on his cat tracker. At one point, he looked alert when the door was open and I thought he might have tried to go out of his cage, but I closed it a bit (unfortunately, they don’t let him out as he would attack the volunteers if they tried to get him back into his cage). Anyway, I kept chanting and opening the door slowly until it was fully open, and he remained on his cat tracker with his eyes closed. At the very end, he walked slowly into the other cage and crawled into his bed, where he took a ‘Reiki nap.’
I thank Ranger, Dancer, and all the animals at The Buddy Foundation who let down their guard and open themselves up to Reiki, which facilitates their own healing process. I’m blessed to be part of this process.
Every week I am honored to be able to offer reiki meditation to the animals at Baltimore Humane Society and the past several weeks are no exception. Several of my sessions are spent with 2 adorable kittens that have Cerebellar Hypoplasia – they shake and wobble a lot due to under developed muscle coordination. Mussle and Oyster will live a healthy life, but the goal is of course for them to be adopted sooner than later especially since they have been in the shelter for over 5 months and they are almost a year old…
My first session with them (they are together in a well padded floor, lots of cubbies and toys to play with!), they were very reserved and did not come over to me, but after 15 minutes they did take a nap which lasted for 30 minutes or so. I thanked them both for sharing such a wonderful healing space and they continued to nap as I quietly left their area.
The 2nd session was amazing! Once inside their room (which is yellow-perfect for healing and soothing), I brought a cushion to sit/kneel on during my sessions and immediately as I situated my self, Mussel, the grey and white kitten came over to me and made himself comfortable in my lap! (did the best with videoing while still keeping the healing space)
His purring was so loud that it assisted me to go even deeper in my meditation!
Offering Reiki Meditation to a kitten with Cerebellar Hypoplasia
His brother Oyster was napping when I came in their room. Sharing this beautiful energy I noticed Mussel’s shaking of his head was much less and when he did decide to move around the room to get something to eat he was slightly more stable in his walk. He welcomed the camera as you can see below!
A little later Oyster woke up and also came over to me, though he was more interested in my seat cushion and the ties which became a play toy!
After a couple of minutes, Oyster went over and ate and drank some water and went right back to napping. Trusting the reiki energy to go where it needed to go, I am blessed to witness a calmness in them both. For the 45 minutes, the shaking and wobbleness was decreased especially while sitting and eating!
Mussel playing with seat cushion
The video below was recorded 11-19-16 which was the following week from the visit recorded above ….and….guess what?
Wonderful news for them… They were both adopted together that week to a loving and compassionate family! It is such an honor and blessing to be part of animals life being Reiki for them.
Oyster the kitten, receiving Reiki energy!
When I walked in to the room to feed the cats, my heart sank when I realized that only Abe’s twin brother, Rudy, met me. Both Rudy and his mother, Zelda, had been quite ill for the past week with a stomach upset. Both had recovered and I had hoped that Abe would escape the illness.
By: Char Jensen
Why giving back now is the key to your Reiki business’s future success.
Every entrepreneur knows that the early days of building a new business from the ground up are challenging, exhausting and even exhilarating. But in the wild rush to find new customers, get the word out and turn a profit, it’s easy for business owners to neglect one of the most critical strategies for success: giving back the community. Although doing so may seem to go against the conventional wisdom on your road to making sales (“How can I make money when I give things away for free?”), the reality is, it’s just smart business.
It’s a secret long known by uber-successful corporations—from American Express to Zappos.com. Companies such as these make corporate social responsibility a priority, lending a hand to the communities where their employees live and work. The move strengthens communities, sure, but also boosts their brand in the process.
You may be thinking that it’s easy for multimillion-dollar companies to give back, and that might be true. They’re not stuck in the trenches like you are, working 12-hour days just to secure the next paying client. But the reality is, giving back is not just for big companies. Small ones—especially those in the startup stage—that donate their time and services to a cause aligned with their business’s goals find it’s an invaluable way to broaden their network, raise their business’s profile and, yes, even make sales.
“Giving back is an essential part of establishing your startup’s brand,” says Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media in Costa Mesa, California, and a nationally recognized expert and speaker on entrepreneurship and small business. “Everyone prefers to do business with people they know. Showing up and taking part in local activities allows you to meet face to face, and establish actual relationships with potential and current customers. You can spend a lot of money and time on marketing and social media campaigns (and I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t invest in those), but nothing works better—or faster—than showing up and letting your community know you’re there and you care.”
Building Relationships, Building Trust
Support is at the heart of the Shelter Animal Reiki Association’s nonprofit business model: support for SARA teachers to pursue their work with their animal member organizations, and support for the animal shelters, sanctuaries and rescues dedicated to helping homeless animals. SARA is a pioneer in the field of holistic animal therapy and on the forefront of forward-thinking shelter/sanctuary/rescue wellness programs. A 501(c)3 corporation with members across the U.S. and in England, SARA has created a standardized program of animal Reiki (a Japanese system of energy healing) training and treatment programs to support the health and wellness of animals in shelters, sanctuaries and rescues as well as the caregivers at each animal organization. Through SARA’s ongoing professional development, training and evaluation program for members, SARA seeks also to promote the highest standards in animal Reiki practitioner and teacher excellence.
When you are first starting out, making yourself known at a particular shelter—that you are a trustworthy and professional business owner—is critically important. Kathleen Prasad, cofounder and president of SARA, found this to be true in the early days of her business, Animal Reiki Source, especially as she started volunteering at BrightHaven, a sanctuary for senior, disabled and special needs animals in Sonoma County, California.
“It’s really true that it’s all about relationships,” Prasad says. “When I first began, my business was struggling financially, and it was quite a risk to give so much freely. But I felt in my heart—seeing the amazing work that they do, knowing the caliber of people that Gail and Richard [owners of BrightHaven] are—that this was the right thing to do. The only way that I wanted build my business was through the integrity of a strong core of service. And so I stepped forward, not knowing how this would play out, and having no other person in whose footsteps to follow.” Today, she is able to support a viable animal Reiki business full time, and also give back to BrightHaven on a regular basis, both energetically (through Reiki) and financially.
When Joyce Leonard began Santa Cruz Reiki Works in Ben Lomond, California, she ran into a common obstacle many new Reiki businesses face. “A year ago, before SARA, I approached an organization about animal Reiki training. They turned me down,” she says. “They didn’t know me from Adam. So I became a good, reliable, consistent volunteer—and I only volunteer for a few hours a month, so it doesn’t take a lot of time. Now they are interested, and I’ve even received a referral from one of them, and the director hired me for a treatment.”
Building your Reiki business will take time, but as Kelly McDermott-Burns, founder of HeartSong Reiki and HeartSong for Animals in Stockbridge, Vermont, has found, giving back to animal organizations is time well spent. She works with the Rutland County Humane Society, the Central Vermont Humane Society and The Hooved Animal Sanctuary. “I have found service work—free clinics, speaking on Reiki—to be extremely rewarding and a great way to get your name out there. Any free services or discounts will give you exposure and give returns in the future.”
“The SARA suggestions to teach the staff for no charge and the volunteers for half price is a great idea,” says Jodie Brenner, who, as founder of Equushearts~Reiki for Animals and Humans in Bend, Oregon, works with a local animal hospice. “I have not had a problem doing this and find that everyone has been especially grateful. One of the volunteers insisted on paying the full price, as she felt she got so much from the workshop. Donating a portion to the nonprofit is well worth that to me. I have a place to teach, I am supported, and it is my offering to the community.”
Building positive relationships with local shelters and rescues has helped Janet Dobbs, founder of Animal Paradise Communication & Healing in Oak Hill, Virginia, build her business. “You can make wonderful contacts at a rescue or shelter,” she says. “Some of these people could become your best clients or students. They may refer their friends to you and spread the word about you and your work. Networking is one of the best ways to grow your business. Once the word is out, you are golden! You will have more than enough work and business and will be able to continue to give back to the animals.”
Animal Reiki is still just gaining traction in the United States and internationally. And unfortunately, it’s more difficult to grow a business when your customers don’t yet understand what you sell. But that’s why SARA’s philosophy of giving back is so empowering to the Reiki entrepreneur. Volunteering is your key to building a profitable business doing what you love: helping animals.
“For over a year, I ‘stuck to my guns’ and was reluctant to lower my prices or give away treatments or training. I felt that my prices were fair and that people needed to pay–it was a fair exchange,” says Leonard. “One day I had a huge insight. I realized that I wasn’t giving hardly any Reiki treatments and that I hadn’t taught any classes (I couldn’t fill them). It was difficult to even justify calling myself a Reiki teacher or practitioner since I was not engaged in doing either. I asked myself, ‘Do you want to do Reiki or do you want to hold out until people come and start paying?’” She wanted to do Reiki—so she reevaluated her payment structure. She started to offer some complimentary treatments, some on a sliding scale, donation-only Reiki Shares and free drop-in clinics. “Now I am giving it away, and suddenly, my phone is ringing with paying clients!” Leonard is happy to report she just taught her first class.
Evolving—As an Entrepreneur and Reiki Practitioner
Establishing alliances with local shelters, sanctuaries and rescues will benefit you in another very important way, one that you may not have considered. The volunteer experiences you have with animals and staff will teach you important Reiki lessons and help you grow as a practitioner.
“On a professional level, I have had the opportunity to work on many different animals: dogs, cats, goats, sheep, pigs, bunnies, birds, chickens, horses and hamsters,” says McDermott-Burns. “I have gained quite a bit of experience from the wonderful variety of creatures available at my shelters. Personally, I must say the most profound lesson I have learned is that the kindness of the human spirit far outweighs cruelty. On the days when I feel the burden of what some of these animals have endured, someone will come in and adopt an animal with health issues, or a crusty old dog near the end of his time on this plane–animals that seem to be unadoptable because of the special care they need. It lifts my heart to know these animals will finally have a loving home. It gives me the courage to stick it out when I just want to go home and cry.”
“My relationship with Animals In Distress has given me a great deal of experience in offering Reiki to animals and to their caretakers,” says John Sawyer of CritterReiki.com in Topton, Pennsylvania. “That experience has been valuable in working with animals and their people outside of AID. Volunteering there has shown me the power of a clear vision and purpose. I have also been blessed to learn from many animals in the time I’ve been involved there. Animals are such amazing teachers!” AID has yet to sign on as a SARA member organization, but Sawyer is working toward that goal.
Promoting Your Business Through Service
When you build relationships with local animal organizations, you gain access to valuable opportunities for promoting your business to the community at large. Your professional network will begin to widen, and you’ll get the chance to volunteer your time and expertise in numerous ways: speaking opportunities, fundraising events, trade shows, auctions and more. “Taking part in community events instantly telegraphs that you care about what’s going on in your neighborhood, and not just about making money,” says Lesonsky, who is also the bestselling author of Start Your Own Business.
As an entrepreneur, it’s vital you stay current on what’s happening and get involved every chance you get. “The most important lesson I have learned is that you have to get yourself out there in the community before you try to sell them on something,” says Leonard. “This means to volunteer in the organization. Help them out and get known. Join their online groups and forums. Participate, write in their newsletters, do high–profile volunteer work that will get you noticed by the right people. Help them out when they’re in a pinch.”
That’s what McDermott-Burns does. “When I participate in shelter fundraisers, I often get free advertising aimed at the people most likely to use my services,” she says. “I also enjoy educating people on the benefits of Reiki for themselves and their animal companions. In addition, I meet many people at shelter events who are interested in classes or sessions.”
The animal Reiki practitioners we spoke to for this article are SARA members. They follow SARA’s policy on donations and fees: free Reiki treatments at shelters, sanctuaries and rescues; free training for the staff of these organizations; teaching volunteers at these shelters for half price; and donating 20-50 percent of proceeds back to the shelter when animal Reiki classes for the general public are taught there.
Add it all up, and you are getting the word out, expanding your professional network, interacting with potential clients, honing your skills as an animal Reiki practitioner, boosting your brand and building a reputation—all for the price of time and a small portion of proceeds, both of which directly support the causes you care deeply about. As Prasad says, “When you are giving back to the animals, to people, to organizations who are lights in this world—it’s time well spent, and you are making the world a better place!”
By: Char Jensen, SARA Publicist
Shelter work wasn’t the reason I first began on the animal Reiki path. After teacher training at Brighthaven I remember talking to Kathleen Prasad about her plans to start SARA. The idea really appealed to me and I wanted to be part of it, but I was fearful. How could I go in there and see all those animals waiting for a home? I wasn’t sure how I would handle it. Could I do it emotionally? Was it going to eat me up inside? I was especially afraid to see the results of abuse. Would I start to hate people? I have been asked these questions many times by others and I tell them the same thing Kathleen told me, “If we don’t do it, who will?” I’m a practical person, and those words clicked with me. ‘Oh, right. Someone has to do it.’ It was enough for me to put aside my fears and give it a go.
I have been volunteering Reiki at the Rutland County Humane Society, a SARA shelter, for five years now. I am fortunate to be working in a wonderful shelter with caring staff and a clean environment. The experience has been so incredibly enriching for me personally and for my work with animals in my private practice. Being able to look my fears of encountering anger, sadness and loss right in the face and to be of service to the animals regardless has taught me patience and compassion. I have learned how to find the good in many situations that seemed beyond redemption. I have grown in my understanding that I still need to grow.
My personal practice has been the most important element in this work. Without Reiki supporting me it would be incredibly difficult to walk into RCHS and not absorb some of the pain and sadness I encounter there. Reiki keeps me grounded and opens my heart to have a deeper understanding of compassion. Not just for the animals but for the people that have left them there. I am learning all the time about non-judgement, one of the hardest lessons for me in this work.
I didn’t find all this out right away, of course. I struggled in the beginning with anger and sadness. I wanted to save everyone! I was fearful that some would never make it to a good home. I checked the logs every week to see who went home and had mixed feelings when my favorites left. I wanted them to go home but I also wanted them for me. My own fear of abandonment came up over and over again. Whew!! So much to learn!
Staying diligent with my practice helped me to move through all that. I focused on being grounded through my work with Joshin Kokyu Ho and the first symbol. I maintained emotional balance through my work with the second symbol and the third symbol helped me to open my heart.
Today, there are other meditations I use to go deeper into my true nature. I continue to use the precepts to work through each difficult situation I encounter. And I always keep the basics at hand for days when I have trouble getting into the space.
This isn’t to say that some days I don’t cry over an animal’s fate. It only means that I can see a bigger picture, that I can gain some insight into living a fully compassionate life without falling apart.
Founding SARA Teacher
Recently one of our SARA members, Gay Fowler, was the subject of an article by Jackie Eichelberger, a local columnist who lives close to Gay in Texas. Jackie had visited Gay’s ranch and found the harmony between the domestic and wild animals was so unique it was worth sharing with her readers. Although the article below does not mention Reiki, when we spoke to Gail she said she uses the Hatsurei Ho meditation every morning to create the Reiki space. The story below is a beautiful testament to the power of her personal practice.
I spent the weekend down in the country at a friend’s ranch recently. My friend is one of those people that animals are drawn to. Besides having dozens of donkeys, scores of goats, fifteen horses, two dogs and one cat, there’s a mother raccoon with four babies and four possums that visit her twice a day on her upstairs balcony. Add to that the scores of hummingbirds who visit her feeders and local birds who assemble on her balcony rail for snacks during the day. She says she feels as if she’s running a restaurant whose menu consists of hay, alfalfa, cat food, dog food, sugar water and birdseed.
I was fascinated by the gentleness of this assorted menagerie. All of the donkeys, goats and horses wander up to you for a pat on the head or a scratch on the snout. I like the donkeys best because of their soulful eyes and gentle insistence on being as close to you as possible for an ear rub or a hug.
Goats, as my friend says, are Nature’s party animals. The young ones love climbing onto anything with a relatively flat surface no matter how precarious it may be. They bounce around stiff legged with playful abandon or jump from a perch with a fancy body twist in mid air…such fun to watch. They love to climb into wheelbarrows or empty feed pans for a quick nap. (Here is a cute video of the goats and donkey IMG_1371.)
The possums and raccoons come for a meal twice a day and have a dining order. Mom raccoon, Rosalita, comes first and daintily dips each morsel of cat food into the water dish as she eats. Cat food is her preferred dish. When she’s full, she rests in the corner while all four babes known as “the Rowdies” dig in with gusto, cat food pellets flying everywhere. Do you know why raccoons “wash” their food by dipping it in water? It’s because they have no salivary glands. Moisture aids their ability to eat and digest food.
If my friend is late in putting out the morning meal, Rosalita is often seen standing on two feet against the sliding glass door peering in searching for my friend as if to say“where’s our breakfast…you’re late.” When all her family is fed, Rosalita sometimes puts a paw against the glass door where my friend’s hand rests on the other side. That’s raccoon for “thank you” I think.
Next in the food line come the four possums…Baldy, Not-Baldy, Patches and Crash. They come one at a time and finish off the cat food in no time at all. My friend thinks that the critters are spreading the word to their friends and she will soon be overrun.
Her hummingbird feeders have turned into a regular rest haven for hummers as they make their journey from their winter grounds in Mexico and on their return trip in the fall. As many as twenty or more can be counted flying in and around the feeders several times a day jockeying for their turn to take a drink. A lot of territorial posturing goes on and skirmishes often break out among the swirling crowd of birds.
An incredible connection between the human species and the animal world goes on daily at this ranch and it’s a rare experience to be a part of it. My friend has favorites among the hoofed residents and has names for all the horses, a large number of the donkeys and many, many goats. It’s so relaxing to sit and watch all these critters going about doing the things critters do. It’s a lesson on how to coexist with Nature’s fauna and be rewarded with their gentle, trusting company.
I was reminded of this during my recent visit to The Tree of Life for Animals (TOLFA) in Rajasthan India. TOLFA is a shelter on the front line of animal welfare and some of the animals coming in are in a very poor physical condition and it is fair to say staff see a lot of extreme cases that we just don’t have experience of in the west. So for me it would be a test of my belief in Reiki, to work with the animals and teach Reiki to members of the shelter staff – while trying not to feel overwhelmed – so some gentle reminders about the fundamentals of Reiki from the animals, were most welcome.
The Tree of Life for Animals was founded by Rachel Wright in 2005. Rachel is a British vet nurse who is dedicated to animal welfare, she was awarded the CEVA Welfare Vet Nurse of the year in 2012 is highly regarded for her work in the community where she now lives in India. Rachel and I met in 2002 while studying Essential Oil Therapy for animals and both living in London. Rachel gave me my first experience of offering Reiki to animals by inviting me to the veterinary surgery where she worked and had recently set up a programme of complementary therapies for animals, with a lovely room dedicated to this purpose within the surgery.
TOLFA – The hospital sits in a beautiful valley in the Aravalli Mountain range, between Pushkar and Ajmer in rural Rajasthan. The hospital is surrounded by beautiful countryside, still green after the monsoon, perfect for dog walking. Pushkar is one of the oldest towns in India known for the famous Bahma Temple built in the 14th century, According to legend, the origin of Pushkar dates back to the time when lord Brahma was on his way in search of a tranquil land, lotus fell from the hands of the lord into this valley and a lake sprang up on this spot which was dedicated to him. The Brahma temple located here is a popular place of pilgrimage the area has a wonderful energy attracting many tourists and travellers visiting the holy lake and taking part yoga, meditation and ayurvedic health retreats. Pushkar is also famous for its Camel Fair which TOLFA attends every year to educate the public on animal welfare.
The majority of animals coming through Tolfa’s gates are street or community dogs. Life on the street is hard and when they become ill or injured their local caregiver will contact Tolfa or ambulance staff will pick up sick and injured animals on their rounds. After treatment the animal is always returned to it’s own neighbourhood, if possible.
Tolfa runs a volunteer programme welcoming anyone with animal experience and time, willing to give a bit TLC to the animals in their care. In fact, Rachel sees what she calls Nurturing Volunteers as an essential part of care and rehabilitation that animals receive not only veterinary treatment but also love and attention, so welcomes volunteers especially those with therapies such as Reiki.
So it was as a ‘Nurturing Volunteer’ that I spent 6 weeks there in 2010 putting into practice my skills as a holistic therapist including aromatherapy, massage zoopharmacognosy and Reiki. This year 2013 sees TOLFA become a SARA shelter and I was honoured to attune some wonderful practitioners to Animal Reiki.
My First Day
Accompanying Rachel on her morning tour I soon had a list of animals that she wanted me to do some work with: some had wounds that were taking a long time to heal – perfect candidates for essential oils and nutritional supplements. Many were undergoing treatment that would mean long-term care and, as well as the stress of being confined in a kennel, the veterinary treatment although essential can be a frightening encounter and painful for dogs. Some, suffering from Mange, had already been subjected to emotional trauma while other animals were ready to pass over – TOLFA never turns an away an animal in need and many spend their last days being cared for and loved in safety.
Rachel already had in mind that Reiki could be an important part of end of life care at the shelter and that was certainly to be the theme of this visit, something I needed to work through also, having had a very difficult experience with one of my own precious dogs a number of years ago. Funny how Reiki works, isn’t it!
Remember To Listen
Many of the permanent residents are dogs with paralysis or amputees and I would ask anyone questioning the quality of life for these dogs to just spend some time watching them play and interact with the people and other dogs at the shelter. Of course there are some health issues connected with their conditions but veterinary care is on hand 24/7 and their health is carefully monitored. I watched one little dog speed across the compound on balancing her weight on her front legs to meet her friend, who also only had two good legs, the pure joy as they played was a pleasure to watch.
Back to the little black and white dog. She was very unhappy and although receiving the medical care she needed, didn’t seem to be improving and would warn people off when approached and avoided human contact at all costs. Rachel explained she had the same type of injury as some of the other shelter dogs who coped well and felt there was no physical reason for her to be so depressed. She lived in the puppy yard a secure walled space with sheltering tree where the puppies and younger dogs can move around freely.
As soon as I went into meditation and offered her Reiki she began to move towards me, over to where I sat on a concrete platform passing by my feet then settled directly in front of me a little way off where she made direct eye contact and accepted Reiki for a while (I took the photo when I felt she had enough) but then she came towards me again and tried to climb up on to the concrete platform – at this point one of the staff members reminded me not to touch this dog as she was ‘dangerous’, kind of breaking our connection!
I felt we had made progress so that evening back at the hotel I offered Reiki again distantly and felt an instant connection. I picked up a strong feeling of ‘regret’ and she showed me how her life had changed in an instant, and she just didn’t see the point without her legs. This was really hard to hear and I was determined to help her see that she was now in a safe place where she would be taken care of and loved. We continued with a very strong connection for some time.
Next morning I started my day in the office making up remedies and essential oil blends while Rachel and the veterinary staff made their rounds, then I thought I could go and spend some extra time with the little black and white dog. But it was not to be, she had passed away while I had been in the office, my first thought was why didn’t I go straight to her?, why couldn’t I help her?
Had I really listened to what she was saying I would have realised this was her choice, we have no influence on the outcome and by holding the Reiki space help them to pass in peace and move on if that is their choice. So we sat together in a Reiki space for a while.
Remember – No Expectations, Detach From The Outcome
H9 or Harry is a beautiful soul. He has mange and infected wounds when he was brought in to TOLFA. The mange dogs have suffered twofold, the condition itself is debilitating and leaves them open to secondary disease and complications and emotionally they can be very depressed. As a result of their appearance they are unwanted by the community and often chased away from their homes. It is a common sight to see people throwing stones at such unfortunates, they become pariahs.
Harry is a severe case possessing only a few tufts of hair on his head, the colour reminding me of Prince Harry’s hence his name, I’m sure he’ll be very handsome when it all grows back!
Harry was on my Reiki list and we soon became friends, he is a lovely gentle boy always ready with a wag of his tail. Towards the end of October the weather turned unexpectedly cold at night, earlier than usual, catching everyone off guard (normally shutters are drawn and blankets dispensed to help the more vulnerable dogs cope with the cold. Rajasthan is a desert state and temperatures can drop to minus 0 in the winter months. On checking Harry one morning found him cold to the touch, we moved him out in to the sun and he was given emergency fluids and treatment. He didn’t seem to be responding and other signs meant that things weren’t looking so good for him, my heart sank as I prepared myself for the worst. As I sat with him I felt drawn to chant the mantra for the master symbol, the power of the vibration merging with the sounds of the dogs around us, I would be with him holding the Reiki space while he passed – Harry had other ideas, imagine my delight when he sat up looked up into my face and wagged his tail! Reiki can provide that spark that a soul needs to heal when they are just not ready to go – it is their choice we just consciously bring the energy within their reach.
He continues to improve and before I left found a lovely thick fleecy blanket in the market for his bed. He is still receiving Reiki and his Spirulina milk shakes, which from the photo you can tell he loves.
UPDATE FROM RACHEL AT TOLFA: “Today was funny…I was doing Reiki with another little mange guy in H7 but kneeling in the gallery and your man, promptly got out of his bed (which he hardly ever wants to leave) and pressed himself against the kennel gate trying to get in on the action…he was lapping it up!!”
Remember To See With Your Heart
I would feel a constant presence at my side while working – even when I was sure I had closed gates – I would turn and this little dog would be standing at my leg. I gave up trying to contain him, he could squeeze through any hole, gap, drain and he was just there – while I walked the other dogs, gave treatments, and offered Reiki. Mouse was a new addition the group of Shelter dogs who live permanently at Tolfa and Rachel explained he had come in as a suspected rabies case and had been rescued from a not so nice area of a nearby town, with an unusual canine tooth/jaw arrangement going on, he looks as though he is about to bite and this had led to him being neglected and abused.
I started to look forward to his quiet calm deep thinking presence during my day, I’m sure he was joining in with my Reiki sessions. So with a little patience and the kindness shown to him by people who could see beyond his appearance, he is settling in well at Tolfa.
UPDATE FROM JEMMA AT TOLFA: “I came in the other morning and was trying to work out who he lively, happy little dog was instigating play with Ginger and Honey… really, it took me a while to realise it was Mouse! He was jumping and leaping about without a care in the world!”
Our class was held in a lovely room in the education centre overlooking part of the shelter compound on one side and fields on the other, a beautiful healing space. We were joined in the morning by seven orphans – five newborn puppies whose mother had just been brought in to Tolfa, but had passed away while giving birth during the night, another poorly 2 week old puppy and a feisty newborn kitten.
By the end of our day all of the puppies had passed away to join their mum, a big lesson for any practitioner is that healing doesn’t always mean the restoration of physical health and can be purely spiritual, and I am so proud of my students, although sad, we all recognised what had taken place, we had helped them on their journey in peace and with love. The kitten continues to thrive.
This reminds me of another essential part of our practice, self healing, the work we do is so emotional and can be draining, we really need to include ourselves in the healing process so that we can continue to give our best. Please read Kathleen’s brilliant workshop/article on Self-Healing for Animal Caregivers.
I thank all of the wonderful people doing this difficult but rewarding job at TOLFA and all of the animals I met they made my visit very special.
Now that TOLFA is a SARA Shelter all animals passing through its gates will be offered Reiki and will be available to support the staff and caregivers.
Left to Right: Jemma Sadler, Cristal, Maria Jose Sanchez, Rachel Wright.
Written by: SARA Teacher Alison McKinnon
I shared many Reiki sessions with Monk since early July, as he had Chronic Renal Failure. I had worked with him prior to this diagnosis as well. He always enjoyed Reiki, and anticipated it more and more as he got to know me. When he saw me, he would go jump on the bed to get ready to settle in for his session, often sitting on his person Suzanne’s lap for the session.
Late May, Suzanne had called me to cat sit for Monk and his cat girlfriend Jade, and when I saw Monk, I felt so strongly that I wanted to help. I could see that due to the kidney disease, Monk’s appetite and life force were rapidly diminishing. I had such a strong sense that Reiki would be of help to him, not to mention that I already had a very strong bond with Monk. So I began to do Reiki sessions with him very often – every day at times, but at least three to four times a week.
I felt the sessions needed to be often, to continually reinforce the balance, peacefulness and sense of well-being that Reiki can bring.
We quickly saw his appetite improve from nearly zero to nearly normal, he began clearly enjoying his food again, and his energy level and general vitality improved a lot as well. I always offer Reiki energy for the highest good, but one can never know exactly how that will play itself out.
I was so happy to see him feeling better for what seemed to be extra time, time which we had not anticipated him having, time which I know that we all cherished him having, especially his beloved owner Suzanne. It was such a delight to see the light back in his eyes, to see him prance along with a spring in his step, to see him comfortable and to see him with an appetite.
Monk adored his owner Suzanne, and I felt him wanting to hang on to life as long as he could. And I am glad that until last week sometime, he really was hanging in there strongly, as strongly as he could, Even though his body was frail, I felt such a strength of spirit, of love, of determination.
I treasured the sessions I spent with him. I will never forget them. The lovely summer days with him on my lap as I sat on the terrace with the breeze blowing, and later with him curled up on my lapas we sat on the couch. I knew that I was walking with him on the last part of his road in this life, and it was an honor to be able to spend this time with this very special creature, to feel the very deep connection that happens with Reiki energy with him, to share the light with him. He had such a pure heart, such pure sweetness about him. Most often, it felt like my heart was merging with his heart, that our breathing became as one creature, that we were together in the emanating light. And this emanating light felt like emanating, healing love, like the most pure, beautiful feeling of love that one could have for another creature.
Last Wednesday, when I arrived, I felt from Monk such a strong feeling. It was a lovely day with the sun streaming in through the window, a fall day that gives you that rather melancholy feeling of the summer ending and fall beginning.
It was as if he were laying outside in the sun, temperature just warm and so perfect that he didn’t want to move. That he knew he would have to go soon, but he wanted to stay a little longer, a little longer. A little longer to feel this beautiful time on earth. That he knew his time to go was soon, but he wasn’t just quite ready, that he so wanted to enjoy it a while longer. To feel the connection with the earth, with me in the moment as my hands emanated warmth and energy, with his kitty friend Jade nearby, and most of all with his person Suzanne, who, though she was not present in body during the session, she was and is always with him.
I felt so sad knowing that his time was near, that our time together on the earthly plane would not be much longer.
Thursday he settled into my lap, and it took him a while to get comfortable but then he got so comfortable there, connected with the flow of the energy. After the session ended, I very gently placed him in one of his cozy places.
Friday I arrived at Suzanne’s place a couple of hours before the vet and his assistant were to come. As sad as this was, this was a special and powerful time of connection with both Monk and Suzanne. She held him gently on her lap for most of the time, while I kept the Reiki energy flowing. I felt him become more at ease as we sat there. So much love and light surrounded him.
I kept imagining him resting in a field of grass, and then running in a field of grass, with sunlight around him.
A very unexpected thing happened then. The first four or five lines of the 23rd psalm came to me, in bits and pieces. I think it was because I was see the green pastures, then the still waters, then “he restoreth my soul”. I grew up Episcopalian, but do not really follow any particular organized religion – I am a spiritual person and keep myself open to whatever rings true to me. But at this moment, the bits and pieces of these lines and the images especially, the feeling of being out in the grass with Monk, the feeling of the soul being restored, it all felt very healing. I let the images and lines flow through my mind, which eventually led to the image of light all around the three of us, a calm, healing, heavenly light. We had very quiet music playing, and the door was open to the terrace, with fresh air coming in.
At the end, he was surrounded by such loving energy, it felt like the most gentle, peaceful exit that he could have. Much gratitude to the kind and respectful vet and his assistant who were present and helped make this transition so gentle. And the utmost gratitude to Suzanne, for taking Monk in as a kitten and for giving him such love and care for his whole life. Much, much love to Monk, to Suzanne, and to Jade. And all my sympathy. It is such an honor to know you all and to have been a part of your lives.
There is something that I often say to an animal when I am working with him or her, and I usually say it silently. This is something I said often to Monk (and still say in my mind), “I love you so much, and I always will.” With those words I feel that the feeling travels over time and space, a love that exists eternally. Animals help remind us of the feeling of that love with no boundaries, that we can be connected forever no matter whether on the earthly plane or not.
xoxoxo with love and gratitude to Monk, Suzanne, and Jade
By: Sarah Hauser, SARA Practitioner
I have always been a huge animal lover. I had many unusual pets such as skunks and a pot belly pig. For over 20 years I had Great Danes and Maltese and showed them in confirmation dog shows. I also owned a pet grooming salon. My eyes for beautiful animals fell in the wrong direction. I was focusing my attention on the outside. One day I was jolted to awaken when a vet tech told me that a particular Maltese I was showing, who was staying with my professional dog handler, was “not happy” and she warned me to get her home as soon as possible. At that time, I was so wrapped up in all the reasons why I loved dog shows and failed to see that this little dog did not. Fortunately, she finished her Championship that very same weekend. I took her home, cut off all of her beautiful, long luxurious coat and made an appointment to have her spade. I wanted no chances to have a change of heart and breed her for more puppies. I never sold a puppy. I kept each and every one of them and showed only the best. My friends in the business thought that I had lost my mind. I did not lose anything. I found at that moment in time so much more…my true love of animals. It is not about me at all. It came to me at that moment that the animals are so giving of themselves that they would do anything for us. Go to shows that are loud and scary, have strangers place their hands on them while they stood perfectly still, be dressed in silly clothes like dolls and yes, they are so loyal they would die for us.
So, in my search I started to find something to do for them. To give back the love to these devoted beings. In January of 2010, I began my journey into Reiki. Reiki is a Japanese technique that results in deep relaxation so the body can heal on a cellular level. A technique designed for people. After completing my studies, I started practicing on myself, friends, family and eventually clients. It came to me: This was how I could give back to my precious animals, through Reiki. I started giving Reiki to my beautiful cat, Veronica when she became ill and I was giving Reiki to her as she made her transcendence. I experienced this wonderful connection to her and it was extremely peaceful. It assisted her along with me with her transcendence. I started offering Reiki to my other pets as well. They sat on my lap and seemed to enjoy the process. I wanted to find out more about offering Reiki to animals. After all, they were not willing to lay on the massage table for one hour. After many books and videos, I came across an organization called SARA (Shelter Animal Reiki Association). Wow! Offering this wonderful Reiki to shelter animals, what great way to give back. I started taking courses with two very accomplished ladies Kathleen Prasad and Leah D’Ambrosio from SARA. I can say no less than working with the animals has been a profound experience. I have now studied the traditional Japanese method of Reiki and have been certified in these techniques.
I am also a member and teacher with this organization. My highest honor was to work with two very special clients a Siberian Tiger named Balh-Shoy and a Bengal Tiger named Tigger. I went to the CARE Foundation to give them something but truly it was I who received the gifts. To have a connection with these beautiful beings in such a deep manner is something I will never forget. I will always hold these “teachers” in high regard as true Masters. People call themselves “masters” without doing the work. They take a few classes and certify themselves as a master. It takes a tremendous amount of work, love and dedication to be a master. I myself am a work in progress.
This connection is available to all of us if we take the time to be still and listen with our hearts. You, also, can give this gift of love to your animals. Schedule a session for your animal friend or better yet learn these wonderful, life changing techniques so you can share this special connection with your beloved pet.
By Michele Santom
Michele Santom is a SARA Animal Reiki Teacher and owner of her own yoga studio based in Delray Beach, Florida.
Note: If you would like to learn more about Animal Reiki, please visit our website www.shelteranimalreikiassociation.org. Kathleen Prasad will be teaching the Animal Reiki Teacher Training Course at the CARE Foundation in February 2014. You can learn more about this class at http://animalreikisource.com/reiki-classes/reiki-iii-care. To find out more about the CARE Foundation, please visit www.thecarefoundation.org.